June 27, 2021

Recommended reads: Bik, FDA letter, gecko cancer model, David Baltimore on COVID origin

Recommended reads: Bik, FDA letter, gecko cancer model, David Baltimore on COVID origin


What can a gecko possibly teach us about skin cancer? Read on.

It’s fun when a week’s worth of science reading covers so much territory including COVID-19, geckos that get cancer, a research misconduct sleuth, an FDA letter, and more.

Baltimore weighs in on COVID lab origin idea

Caltech has a very interesting interview with David Baltimore on the possible lab-origin of SARS-CoV2. Baltimore had previously made some statements that suggest he might be leaning toward a lab-origin theory. In the interview he goes through his current thinking, which seems more cautious. His digging a bit into the molecular virology is fascinating.

Recommended reads: Bik, FDA letter, gecko cancer model, David Baltimore on COVID origin
“The common leopard gecko, Eublepharis macularius, comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns, including (clockwise from top left) Sunburst Tangerine, Black Night, White Knight, and Gem Snow, shown in this photo collage. Credit: L. Guo et al./PLOS Genetics 2021/Steve Sykes.”

Elisabeth Bik in New Yorker

The New Yorker published a nice piece on Elisabeth Bik. She has rightly become well-known and respected for her work on scientific integrity. It’s frustrating that so many journals and institutions stonewall both her efforts and those of others who find credible evidence of possible misconduct. Some researchers whose papers she has zeroed in on for issues have been trying to hurt her reputation. However, despite these obstacles, Elisabeth has made a concrete difference for science.

Gecko cancer model

Check out this piece Leopard Gecko Skin Tumors Traced to Cancer Gene from HHMI.

This is a cool story about reptile genetics from Leonid Kruglyak‘s lab. It’s interesting on many levels. It’s cool that reptile pigment mechanisms  are so different. They use crystals, not melanin-like chemicals. The story goes through a mutation linking pigmentation to skin cancer in the geckos, and how Leonid’s lab went down this new research path involving gecko genetics. A confession: I’m a bit jealous of them getting to work with such cool animals. See image above. I don’t get to see many stem cells out in the field.

FDA letter to clinic NatureWorks

Here’s another new FDA untitled letter to yet another stem cell clinic.

As I’ve written in the past, how does the FDA decide whether to send a warning letter, an untitled letter, or another kind of letter? It has sent out more than 400 undefined letters to firms in the stem cell clinic space recently.

How should we think of those letters? I’ve called them “mini-warning letters”, but is that the best way to think of them?

Now that the discretionary period is over as of about 3 weeks ago, are we going to start seeing far more FDA activity on stem cell clinics?

Some recent interesting papers



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